Sharpe supports Grbac, questions team's desire


`Are we hungry? I don't know,' tight end says

Pro Football

November 22, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Shannon Sharpe backtracked from his criticism of Elvis Grbac but questioned the Ravens' passion to defend their Super Bowl championship.

Sharpe broke Ozzie Newsome's NFL record for career receptions by a tight end Sunday, but the celebration was muted by a 27-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns in which Grbac threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. Afterward, Sharpe said Grbac wasn't getting the job done that he was hired to do, but yesterday he softened his comments."

"I guess you all interpreted that I was not supporting Elvis," Sharpe said. "All I said was, right now the job is not getting done - on my part, on the offensive line's part, the receivers' part. We're not doing our job. I also said the offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Elvis. Elvis has to do a better job of protecting the ball. I stand behind that.

"I support Elvis, and no one on the offensive side should question my judgment because I have the numbers to back it up. I have the most credentials. If I stand up and say, `This is the guy we win with,' nobody else should have anything else to say about that."

Last January's rout of the New York Giants put Sharpe on the winning side in three of the past four Super Bowls, and he wonders if this year's team is doing enough to get back there.

"I don't regret anything I said," Sharpe said. "I was very conscious of what I said, even though I was very frustrated. I'm frustrated for the simple fact that I don't think anybody in the locker room envisioned the defending champs being 6-4. Last year we were 6-4, but there were no expectations. We didn't expect to be Super Bowl champs. All we were hoping to do was get in the playoffs.

"When you're the world champs, anything less than getting back there is unacceptable. Anything less is a failure. Right now we're failing ourselves, and I'm very disappointed in that. That's what I really wanted to say. I wanted to say we're not playing with the same passion. We don't have the same purpose that we had in practice and in meetings last year. Are we cocky? I don't know. Are we hungry? I don't know."

Sharpe suggested that the Ravens are still adjusting to being the first team circled on opponents' schedules.

"It starts with me, it starts with Elvis, it starts with the defense," Sharpe said. "Everybody is coming to play us, week in and out. You have to be better prepared than the next team. If you don't, you'll be 6-4."

R. Lewis questionable

Ray Lewis missed practice yesterday with a strained quadriceps. It's the second week this season the All-Pro linebacker has been listed as questionable, but Lewis played the first time and had seven solo tackles in a 26-7 pounding of Tennessee that marked the Ravens' only laugher of the season.

Four others are listed as questionable, but defensive backs Duane Starks (groin) and James Trapp (groin), tight end John Jones (leg) and linebacker Brad Jackson (leg) all practiced yesterday.

Extra points

The Ravens worked out two players yesterday but won't sign anyone until Monday at the earliest. The team will have a roster spot available once it places injured defensive end Michael Mc- Crary on injured reserve. ... Verizon Wireless and Motorola have teamed up with the Ravens to help victims of domestic violence. Representatives will be collecting old wireless phones at the Dec. 2 game at PSINet Stadium. Donated phones will be refurbished and distributed to victims or sold with the proceeds going to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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